Guest Author - Caroline Coleman
Scams are rife in all areas of life. Here are some writing and publishing scams to be aware of.
All writers believe they have a talent. However, writing and publishing are also businesses. If a publisher believes they cannot sell your book well, then it can readily be rejected, even if it has undisputed qualities as a work of literature. Given all this, it is perfectly natural for authors, especially young and unrecognized ones, to look for every opportunity to write and get published. However, it is too easy to fall victim to some publishing scam. That is why it is a good idea to learn more about the different writing and publishing scams, so that you can be vigilant and avoid them.
The writing contests offer great opportunities for new authors to reveal their talent to the world and become successful. They are easy to find and to participate in. However, there are also many contest writing scams. Their number is growing, especially on the internet. There are two different types of contest scams that you might stumble upon. In both cases, you will be asked to pay a significantly higher fee for participation than usual. Most contests request between $10 and $15 from participants, so if the sum is times higher, this should definitely be a red flag.
In the classic scams, usually with short story contests, the participant gets a letter that they are among the top authors, but their work needs to be professionally reviewed and edited to become perfect. The victims are asked to pay a considerable sum for this, but they do not get published afterwards. Still, scammers have become even more creative in draining the pockets of inexperienced authors. They send you a letter saying that you have won and ask for more money to get your biography published together with your work. Then a vanity publisher actually includes the piece in an anthology and sells copies of the entire book to be purchased for personal use and for gifts to friends and family. The problem is that the anthology is actually not a book that will be available in bookstores.
The scams for freelance writing work are also not uncommon. If you want to write for a magazine or a website, you will be able to find plenty of ads offering you to submit your work and get paid for this. They usually guarantee publishing in popular magazines or on heavily visited internet sites. It is often difficult to recognize the scam at first sight, but if you are asked to pay an upfront fee of some sort, this should definitely be a red flag. When considering ads, it is essential to research them carefully.
Regrettably, the publishing scams are also abundant. You should definitely be suspicious about publishing houses or literary agencies that advertise themselves as accepting everything for publishing. These are usually the so called vanity publishers that will actually charge you for publishing your book. This is not necessarily a bad thing if you opt for self-publishing, but you should be aware of the fact that many companies of this type have gained bad reputation among distributors for offering unedited works of poor quality. You should also be suspicious about publishers offering you to co-invest in the publishing of your book. These are usually vanity publishers trying to scam you.
When you submit your work to a publisher, they should not ask you to pay anything. If they request the payment of any sort of fee, then you should definitely suspect a scam. The same applies if a publisher likes your manuscript, but asks you to send it for editing and/or reviewing to a specific person or a company. Authors usually end up paying for a poor service and do not get published at all.
Many writers are overly excited when they receive a letter from a literary agency saying they have found the author’s name and are willing to sign a contract with them. This, however, is a scam that is becoming increasingly popular. Literary agencies do not use this approach to find clients, because they are not interested in writers, but in the quality of their works. If they do not have anything that you have written, then they certainly will not invite you to become their client. The recipients of such letters are usually asked to pay a fee for being represented in advance and actually never get to meet a publisher.